Can Someone Please Explain The Deal With Trademark Character

Business By harrisonsmama Updated 25 Jul 2009 , 2:44pm by makeminepink

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 1:46pm
post #1 of 16

I know there are a lot of threads on this, but I am so confussed and nervous about doing something that could me and my company in trouble. I was just hired and the Executive Designer at a new bake shop and will be doing hihg-end wedding cakes for their restaurant as well. I am making display cupcakes and my boss wants me to do something trendy for the kids, like HSM or Thomas the Train or Cars. Can I? I see it in books all the time and then I come here and people say it is illegal and I am so confussed. Alittle help would be most appreciated.

15 replies
SugarMoonCakeCo Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 1:55pm
post #2 of 16

A NOTE FOR CHARACTER CAKES:
All licensed characters, shaped cake pans, candy moulds, Cake Top! Edible Cake Decorations and cookie cutters are for consumer home use only. Stores/shops cannot make cakes, cookies or candies from licensed products and sell them to consumers. These "mould making items" are strictly prohibited for any type of commercial use since the licensor has neither the method to control the quality of the reproduction of the character nor the ability to earn royalties on sales of the "made" products. This applies to both baked and craft-type products. Free-hand or copies of character designs cannot be drawn or iced on top of a cake, cupcakes or cookies and sold for any type of commercial purpose. Once again, the licensor cannot control the quality and is not earning a royalty on product created around their characters. Generally, creating any type of image that looks like a licensed character that is sold for commercial purposes is prohibited unless there is specific licensing agreement with the licensor for that product and royalties are paid each time the product is sold.

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:15pm
post #3 of 16

so, if i free hand mickey it is illegal? I just want to be sure. I never use pans or molds. I interpret the character free hand. I never draw them- mainly scultp. I just want to be very, very clear and also have some insight when I talk to my boss about this.

indydebi Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:17pm
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonsmama

... and my boss wants me to do something trendy for the kids, like HSM or Thomas the Train or Cars.



Explain to him that it's illegal. Hopefully, he won't insist you do it anyway. If he goes that route, you need to decide now what your response is going to be.

When I worked for a manufacturing company, my boss's boss asked me to do something that was flat out illegal. We're talking anti-trust laws, price fixing, etc. I contacted my immediate boss and told him what I was asked to do ... told him how I explained it wasn't legal ... told him I wanted nothing to do with it. Told him I loved my job, but I was not willing to incur a $500,000 fine and spend 10 years in jail for anyone. My immediate boss said he'd take care of it.

In the meantime, I STILL have the email from an attorney who specialized in this issue in which he told me "....I would advise you not to do it." Even tho' I left that company years ago ... even tho' I'm no longer in that industry .... I STILL have that email.

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:21pm
post #5 of 16

so, when a client calls wants a dora cake for instance, I tell them unless I use a licensed edible image, I can't make it? is thsi what all of you do?

SugarMoonCakeCo Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:24pm
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by clevercakelady

Free-hand or copies of character designs cannot be drawn or iced on top of a cake, cupcakes or cookies and sold for any type of commercial purpose. Once again, the licensor cannot control the quality and is not earning a royalty on product created around their characters.




i've read on here of people being charged in the tens-of-thousands of dollars for doing so...something i'd rather not deal with personally! so i simply get my customers to read this statement... of course some bakeries ARE licensed to create some characters and sell them... which is why you can go to a grocery store and buy character cakes.

on cakes i sell - i tell them i can make a cake with the theme of "character" if they want to purchase figurines or toys from the store and add them after, that's up to them. i won't go out and buy the items. (ie: lightening mc queen...make a race track cak and have them place the car on it later).

hope that helps!

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:30pm
post #7 of 16

do you feel like you loose a lot of customers this way? Especially when their kids watn a certian character on their cake. I just cannot stand sheet cakes or cakes with an edible image slapped on top. I guess I could get more creative with the design. LIke putting the edible image ona gumpaste cut-out or something.

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:33pm
post #8 of 16

Some one posted about there being a lot of "clicks" and nastyness here on CC, and I h ave to say that I find it such a helpful resource. How woudl I know half of the stuff I do with out all of you? Thanks so much for yoru help and advice.

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:45pm
post #9 of 16

one more thing- what about when a bride comes in with a picture of a ckae and wants you to replicate it? I always change the design or try and create something different that she will like just as well, but I have seen people get nasty about someone using an idea that they think they "invented". I guess I am just freaking out!

SugarMoonCakeCo Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:54pm
post #10 of 16

it's rare that someone asks me to do a cake of that nature...mostly because my minimum charge is $100 and people who want a sheet cake with a character typically won't pay $100 for a kids cake. i don't even offer "sheets" as a size option, so that deters alot of people. i've committed myself to providing a certain "style" of cake and perfer to focus on the "art" of cake rather than the quantity...

i have no problem turning someone down who wants that style of cake - its a style i'd rather not do (besides, that's what the grocery chains are for) icon_smile.gif

usually i can convince people to do it my way... a themed cake... i think they're always more creative and special!

Michele01 Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:55pm
post #11 of 16

I would never do a licensed character cake for anyone. The companies have ways of finding out. I had read a post on here a long time ago, about someone knowing a woman that sold characters cut out of wood to decorate your yard with. The companies go around and search for people at these events, and she was caught and fined. My b-i-l's sister also works at a place that makes christmas ornaments. This year they made some with the grinch on them. The company found out a they got a huge fine. I wouldn't do it. It's not worth it.

SugarMoonCakeCo Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 2:59pm
post #12 of 16

sorry - i think we're typing over each other and i'm missing some of your posts! haha

yes, i prefer to stay away from the nastiness too...this is where i've learned MOST of my stuff too!

when a bride brings in a photo - of course we can do it...obviously i'm like you and like to change things to fit in with their theme or personality, but what a bride wants a bride gets! (usually!) there's no copyright law on a cake design (that i've seen anyway)...and to those who think they've "invented" a technique i can almost be certain it's been done 20 years before them in one way or another...a design on the other hand could be their own creation (as i've done as well) but i really don't think you can tell someone not to do it....

correct me if i'm wrong! lol

harrisonsmama Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 3:12pm
post #13 of 16

You all have NO idea how much this has helped me! Thank you so much! I LOVE YOU ALL. HUGS, KISS, BUTTERFLIES AND UNICORNS.

prterrell Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 5:21pm
post #14 of 16

If your shop wants you to do licensed characters, then you need to order the kits from wholesale licensed suppliers, such as BakeryCraft and SugarCraft. Part of the deal is that you have to do the cake EXACTLY like in the "sample" photo. All of the kits come with a little card with directions and a sample photo. Most involve airbrushing and are very simple and quick to do (which is one of the reasons why grocery stores and megamarts use them).

indydebi Posted 30 Jan 2009 , 10:04pm
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonsmama

do you feel like you loose a lot of customers this way?



Cheaper to lose one customer who for some reason thinks you're being an a$$ for refusing to operate in an illegal manner, than to pay the fine, and possibly lose your biz, your home, everything.

I've never had someone storm out when I explain why it can't be done. And it they did ... good ridance.

makeminepink Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 2:44pm
post #16 of 16

What if someone buys a say........Hello Kitty.......... like the one in my pics and brings it to you to put on the cake. As long as you just send the cake home with them with the character in a sack to put on later, that's fine... right?

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